Cambridge

Police closing in on gang behind the notorious Fen Road crime spree

A massive police effort to tackle a crime spree plaguing families in Fen Road and East Chesterton has led to the identification of a gang behind the scourge.

A report to Cambridge City Council's north area committee has outlined the actions police have taken.

Officers say regular patrols have resulted in two of the “problem cars” being seized and the identification of a group of young men, and their cars, who are now being "targeted for enforcement".

And dangerous drivers speeding and doing 'doughnuts' have been snared by police after residents called for action.

Families in Fen Road and in streets in East Chesterton have been living in fear of being run over, having their homes attacked, or being punched as they cycle in the area.

A six-car pile up caused by a 'street race' was the catalyst for action.

An investigation by the News also uncovered a raft of incidents including people being attacked with dead animals.

What the problems are

A panel was involved in the discussion of Fen Road

The report says: "Members of the committee reported concerns summarised as Fen Road:

 Dangerous, anti-social and inconsiderate driving.

 Intimidation and criminal public order offences.

 Criminal damage, specifically egg-throwing and the use of ball-bearing weapons to smash windows.

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"Further concerns were raised which covered a wider area of the north of the city:

 General anti-social behaviour (ASB) and the perception of lawlessness, including young people gathering in groups and using mopeds off-road.

 Concern around police visibility.

 Concern about reporting of ASB and crime not being following through or actioned by police."

Police have 'identified a group of young males for enforcement'

Police in Water Street, Near Fen Road

Sergeant Tracy Williams said: "The following immediate actions have been taken by the police:

"Community Action Team (CAT) has now been assigned specifically to patrol and deal with tackling ongoing issues.

"This team is focused and targeted at just a few acute areas around the south area of the county, meaning more regular patrols and enforcement can be assured independently from any demands on our regular police teams who service 999 calls and emergencies.

"Regular patrols have resulted in two of the 'problem cars' being seized and the identification of a group of young males (and their cars) who are now being targeted for enforcement.

"Community intelligence and reporting is being reviewed daily. Any calls made to police which are not 'emergencies' – so cant be serviced immediately – are collated and assessed.

"It means that we have been able to link all online reports and calls via 101/999, and start mapping where and when problems are occurring.

"As a result, the CAT is now able to focus on the very few specific people, cars, times and locations where issues are occurring.

"We have also been able to build stronger cases against individuals having mapped all the cars that have been reported against descriptions, locations and times. This is ongoing work."

Hundreds of calls

The car on Fen Road has been left with smashed windows (Image: Brian Johnson)

The officer added: "We have reviewed several hundred previous calls and investigations.

"Victims and witnesses have been revisited or contacted. We are doing this as we begin to build civil cases against regular or repeat offenders.

"This has been key to obtaining section 59 (Police Reform Act) seizures of cars.

"We have been placing a lot more information in the public domain using eCops and social media."

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Cambridge's notorious Fen Road

Six-car crash investigation

Horrific photos from the scene of the six-car crash on Fen Road show thousands of pounds worth of damage as the road is sealed off by police.

Witnesses described the smash a "street race gone wrong".

Six vehicles were involved in the crash, including a Nissan pick up and a Toyota Landcruiser.

Sergeant Williams said: "The traffic collision investigation which triggered some heightened concern is still ongoing.

"From the public meeting we were provided with some dash cam footage which will assist us.

"We have apologised and acknowledged a time delay in picking up this footage, a concern which was aired at our public meeting. We thank the owner of the footage for their diligence in ensuring we obtained it.

"Given the complexity of the investigation there was no impact on the time line of the investigation. DI Savill remains the senior investigating officer, and has updated us that his team are actively pursuing lines of enquiry.

"It may realistically be a few more weeks before we know the outcome; this is not an unusual timescale, as we seek to follow all the necessary guidance from the CPS."

Long-term solutions

Part of the Fen Road traveller site

The officer added: "As well as traditional police work, we have formed a multi-agency group to look at the longer term issues, looking at the causal factors behind the behaviour, criminality and communities concern.

"This will include:

 Cohesion between the settled and travelling communities.

 Road safety and environmental design of the area.

 Community mapping of resources.

 Long-term engagement and confidence work.

 Proactive bids for funding to allow the partnership to start implementing long term renewal projects.

"We are also looking in the longer term at how we might continue enforcing ASB and driving offences.

"The current increase in police presence will not provide any realistic longer term solution, so as part of the long term planning we will be looking at how we neutralise the current issues by designing them out rather than rely on enforcement.

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"Police have offered to be part of a residents committee. We await further invites to these meetings and see this as a good way to be visibly accountable to you.

"We are also now looking at formally appointing a volunteer from the community who will be able to work with us from within the team, to influence how we work and feedback progress to the community.

"For the moment the police will lead on bringing together a multi-agency working group to look at this, with a view to this being adopted as a standalone group which involves all partners given the significant community concern.

"The police teams concern long term is that we cannot rely on enforcement to solve the underlying problems that exist in the community, and this is reflected in our short and long term plans."

Looking ahead

Police seized this car in a crackdown on danger driving in the Fen Road area

The officer said: "Fen Road – All the above matters will continue and we will retain this as a local priority.

"Wider ASB – Given the acute nature of the Fen Road issues our resources have been focused here.

"PCs Eleanor Bacchus and Jess Denniff will now start looking at some of the wider issues.

"We believe that we need to understand from our next area committee meeting the other hot spot areas and areas of concern and adopt a similar approach to the above to start to problems solve some of the longer standing concerns."

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